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Dear Elizabeth – Charmeleon Edition

I decided to run an agony aunt column. Image Credit: Braintechinc

At one point in my career, I was receiving so many letters from people asking for help with their Pokémon, I decided to run an agony aunt column. Here a couple of my Charmeleon-related questions and answers:

Dear Elizabeth,

I have a Charmeleon called Andy that I raised from a Charmander. He was my first Pokémon and he was so well behaved when he was a Charmander. He’d sleep at the end of my bed, walk me to school with my mum and even help out with the chores while I was at school. However, ever since he evolved, he just hasn’t been himself. We made him his own little outhouse in the yard but he slashed at it with his claws in a rage like I’ve never seen before. He has also ruined mum’s garden and he stands outside my window all night yowling at me. Funny thing is, though, that he is absolutely fine at behaviour classes. The teacher is astounded when I tell him about what a terror he is at night. Please can you help, as my mum is near giving up and I really don’t want to get rid of him.

Yours,
Edna


Dear Edna,

This sounds like a classic case of anxiety disorder. You obviously love your Pokémon very much and very rightly gave your Charmander plenty of attention. You slept together, played together, and in the day he had your mum to help out. However, when he evolved, he was moved to an outhouse. Outhouses can be great ideas for some Pokémon that evolve to be too large for living in the house. However, Charmeleon is very much a pack animal. To you and your mum, the outhouse was both a loving gesture – building him a special place just for him to stay. However, to your Charmeleon, it feels as if he is being cast outside, away from his pack.

My advice would be to make every attempt to move Charmeleon’s living quarters indoors. Do you have a spare room? Or a large storage cupboard that you could repurpose? Once he has a space within the emotional safety of the family home, you can set some boundaries such as when he should stay in there and when he can come out. Set specific slots where you spend time together – preferably make this a few hours of training or exercise. Remind him that someone is always nearby – if everyone needs to leave the house, it’d be best to take him with you rather than leave him alone.

If there is no way for Charmeleon to live indoors, I would suggest finding a partner for your Pokémon. It doesn’t really matter what type of Pokémon, but preferably someone that is his level and someone he can get along with. Camp outside with your Charmeleon and his new pal for at least two weeks. Next, step this down to three nights a week for a further two weeks, and finally one night per week for a final two weeks. By this end of this gradual adjustment period, your Charmeleon’s confidence in his space should grow.

Best of luck,
Elizabeth

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Dear Elizabeth,

I have had my Charmeleon for five years now. He was a rescue from an abandoned Pokémon shelter; I think he is about 30 years old but we’re not sure. We used to train together, but he started to get less and less energy as he got older – this is normal, right?! – so I don’t particularly train him anymore. He is more of a family member and spends his days hunting rabbits in our field and his nights guarding the grain store – this was Pappa’s idea of ways to keep him active and give him a purpose. We haven’t got a room for him, but Pappa lets him sleep on the couch.

We got a new couch not too long ago and ever since, Charmeleon has been scratching it. Its made Pappa really mad, as it cost a fair bit and it is in tatters now. Why is Charmeleon scratching the new couch?

Thanks
George

Hi George!

Thanks for writing in, I’m glad you decided to give Charmeleon such a loving home. Have you considered taking Charmeleon to the Pokémon Centre just to get him a check over? Charmeleon can be quite lazy, but 30-35 isn’t too old for a Charmeleon, so I’d be surprised if his fatigue was age related. If he is getting tired a lot, he may be being overworked (hunting at night then guarding in the day would be strenuous on anyone!). The destructive behaviour you described seems like a reaction to frustration. His tiredness might be causing him some stress. This may also be exacerbated by only having the couch to sleep on – he would have to wait until everyone went to bed before he could get complete peace for deep sleep. Space is often an issue for Pokémon owners, but it would be best if you could find a quiet place such as a cupboard where he can get some alone time.

Keep me posted,
Elizabeth

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Rivalry – Part I (A Charmander Story)

A story by Christian Brumwell

Tears start to form at his eyes. He closes them and, for a second, almost seems to stop struggling. Image credit: @lebgar

Both lizards are hunched over, heads extended, eyes locked with each other. The brilliantly burning flames on the tips of the tails are angled in front of the body. The male lizard is mostly bright orange; the cream on his torso is covered in scratch marks and mild burns. The electric blue eyes are narrowed, fixed on the other lizard.

She’s different; her eyes are more focused with a tint of green, and her scaly skin from head to toe is a dazzling gold. There is a slight sparkle to her: even her flame seems brighter. Like her opponent, her eyes are unmoving. She flexes her feet; her claws crunch into the hot, dusty gravel.

He draws himself up to his full height, pulling back his tail. His eyes stretch out into a leer. Her arm twitches and her head drops for a split second. He moves to take a step forward just as she brings her head back up and utters a growl; he now takes a step back. The two Charmander are still locked at the eyes, about ten metres apart.

The silence presses in. The lizards remain motionless. The female’s arm twitches again: she lifts her other arm to scratch her neck and, finally, turns to move away from her orange opponent. Just as he starts to step forward again, she strikes. Turning with the speed of a Weavile, she spits a jet of golden flame. He drops his head again and allows the flame to hit him, keeping his eyes fixed forwards. As he absorbs the oncoming flames, the claws on her right arm extend, transforming from gold into a light, shiny grey.

As she readies her metal claw, his fangs start to extend with bright orange flames erupting from his gums. With the solid white daggers now fully extended from his mouth, entirely layered with orange fire, he flexes his claws and waits. As quickly as she fired her flamethrower, she lets up: they both charge at once.

Both Charmander are sprinting at each other the ferocity of Rhyhorn; metal claw and fire fang at the ready. They get to about five metres apart before they leap. Her arm is extended out above her head, while his head is reared forward, with his mouth wide open.

CRUNCH!  

Her metallic arm is caught in his mouth, while his fangs have pierced deep beneath her skin. She spasms; flinching from the depth of his bite. Pressing his advantage, he lets go, then extends his fangs again. This time the fire around them seems even more fierce. He bites again. Grey smoke starts to seep out of her twice bitten arm. She wails in pain and tries desperately to pull herself free. This time, he doesn’t stop biting, and his own claws on both arms extend into a scratch attack. He uses his claws to hook her arm into her place and continues to sink the fire fang deeper beneath her skin.

She continues to cry in pain, but the orange Charmander still keeps his jaws firmly on her arm. Her own fangs start to extend, layering themselves with the same type of golden flame that she spat at him earlier. His right eye travels up to see a fully formed fire fang.

CRUNCH!

This one is more sickening than the first. He has taken a critical hit from a fire fang to the back of the neck and, like she did after his first attack, he has spasmed into a flinch. Unlike him, she does not let go and bite again: instead, she pulls her arm out of his mouth, while forming her claws into a scratch attack. She hooks one arm onto his head, and another over his back to hold him, while continuing to press her fire fang into the back of his neck. His mouth is wide open, and his eyes are wide, yet he is not making a sound. He’s on all fours, desperately trying to pull away, but her fangs have got him locked into place.

Tears start to form at his eyes. He closes them and, for a second, almost seems to stop struggling. She slightly loosens her grip on his neck. Then the smoke erupts from his mouth, travelling up, engulfing the pair. Instinctively, she closes her eyes and pulls away.

She attempts to jog away from the brawl, but her left foot catches the back of her right foot, and she falls to the ground. Her throat is burning. She coughs hard, but more thick billowing smoke creeps in. For a while, all she can do is lie there, spluttering to try and work the smoke out of her system. Her right arm that took the fire fang from the male Charmander is twitching.

The ground beneath her seems to rumble. She lifts her head up, but keeps her mouth and eyes closed. Almost silence: there is only the light licks of her golden, shimmering flame, whispering to the humid, clouded air. She goes to stand, gingerly pushing herself up, but the rumble comes back. This time it’s more intense; like a mild earthquake. She starts to feel queasy and drops back to the floor, covering her head with her arms. She lies there cowering, but still the rumble continues, increasing with intensity with every passing second. She opens her mouth to cry out, still keeping her eyes firmly shut, with her arms covering her head.

The rumbling stops. Several small pebbles seem to have gone flying, not too far from where she lies. A couple of them bounce of the top of her head. Slowly, she lifts her head up and finally opens her eyes.

The smoke is a lot less thick; it now more resembles a thin cloud of dust. Something is moving along the ground.

This is part I, see part II here!

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Ivysaur Biology: Getting Energy

My Ivysaur’s favourite snack is nuts, especially pistachios. Image credit: Jozanto Soe Aung

Ivysaur has bounds of energy – so much so that he rarely sits still. One of the reasons for his get-up-and-go attitude is that he has two energy sources: metabolism and photosynthesis. This article will look at these two methods and how Ivysaur uses them to get moving.

Using the Light

Ivysaur uses photosynthesis to create sugar using the Sun’s energy. This technique is used by all plants, from mosses to trees. Here is how it works:

  • Ivysaur’s leaves are filled with a substance called chlorophyll (that’s what makes his leaves green). This substance holds many piles of small discs called chloroplasts. As sunlight hits the chloroplasts, it activates a protein in the leaf cell called an enzyme
  • Enzymes speed up chemical reactions for many different processes. The enzymes used in photosynthesis break up water molecules into oxygen, hydrogen and electrons. Ivysaur gets water by drinking, like you and me, while typical plants get water from their roots
  • The hydrogen released from the water molecule teams up with some electrons to transform chemical NADP into NADPH. This then reacts with other chemicals in the plant to form sugar
  • The oxygen released from the water escapes from the leaf into the atmosphere. We breathe oxygen, which is one reason why photosynthesising Pokémon and plants are so important!

Food for thought

Ivysaur’s second method of getting energy is eating, like you and me. Ivysaur is an omnivore, which means he eats both plants and animals. My Ivysaur’s favourite snack is nuts, especially pistachios. I don’t know where he got it from as I’m not a nut fan! Wild Ivysaur are opportunists and their natural diet includes nuts, berries, vegetables, leafy greens, grasses, flowers, snakes, frogs, eggs and birds. It is best to try and reflect this diet as closely as possible, mainly focusing on vegetables. Here is how Ivysaur gets his energy from eating:

  • First (Ivysaur’s favouritepart, he tells me), Ivysaur chooses something to eat. My guess is pistachios! As he eats, he chews the food with his teeth. An Ivysaur has two types of teeth: molars and canines. Canines are pointy, designed for ripping and tearing. They are situated at the front of the jaw. Ivysaur’s molars are larger and flatter, located at the back of the mouth. These are used for grinding down plants and breaking up food
  • As Ivysaur chews, his mouth produces saliva. Spit is filled with enzymes that are specialised at breaking down sugars
  • Once it has been chewed, food is then swallowed. It travels down the oesophagus (a muscly tube in his neck) and travels into the stomach
  • The stomach is a muscular sac that contains acid. The stomach vigorously moves food around, while mixing it with the acid and breaks it down to a pulp. As the food is pulverised, specific sugar-processing enzymes continue the job of breaking down sugar into a simpler sugar, glucose
  • The pulpy food moves from the stomach into the intestines. The glucose is transferred into the body cells through the intestines, which are lined with a series of bumps that ‘catch’ the food
  • The body uses insulin to tell cells to let glucose in. The cells then use glucose to create energy